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How Many Calories Should I Be Eating Everyday?

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
How many calories should I be eating everyday? I'm 16 5 feet 5 inches and my bmi says I'm just overweight, im also moderately active, meaning I dont work out, but I dont sit around all day.
Signed: How Many Calories Should I Be Eating Everyday?

Dear How Many Calories Should I Be Eating Everyday?,

 

The USDA recommends that moderately active girls ages 13-18 consume approximately 2,000 calories per day, while boys ages 15-18 consume 2,800 calories per day. However, if you are looking to lose weight, TeenHealthFX does not think this is the most helpful information for you to focus on. For one thing, a more exact calculation of the numbers of calories each person requires depends on things such as age, metabolism, activity level, and muscle mass – so these numeric estimates given above may not paint the picture of what would be best for you. Second, most people tend not to do well with calorie counting each day in terms of losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight for the long run.

If you are “just overweight” then FX is assuming you are taking in too many calories compared to how active you are. If you would like to lose enough weight so that you are in a healthy weight range, rather than focus on calorie counting FX advises that you focus on the following:

1.      Consider how much food you are consuming each day. (Think portion size)

If you go to ChooseMyPlate.gov, at the bottom of the page you will see listings of the different food groups (i.e., grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy, protein, oils). Under each food group you can get information as to the kinds of foods that are healthiest to eat in each food group, as well as information on serving size.

2.      Consider the kinds of foods you are eating on a daily basis. Here are some guidelines of what you do and do not want to focus your diet on:

 

·         Focus on eating foods that fill you up, foods with protein and bulk. Beverages are often filled with empty calories and do not do a great job of helping us to feel full. So stay away from things like sodas and fruit juices (have a piece of fruit instead), and focus mainly on water along with some low or non-fat milk. And make sure you are getting enough lean proteins in your diet, as this will help you to feel more full and prevent overeating (for example, eating eggs for breakfast rather than a bowl of cereal).

·         When it comes to carbs, focus on whole grain. Choose whole grain bread over white bread, whole wheat over regular pasta, brown rice over white rice, etc.

·         Stay away from junk foods – chips, cakes, cookies, candy. Not only do these foods not fill you up, the body can quickly turn all the sugars in these foods into stored fat.

·         Make sure you are getting your daily servings of fruits and vegetables.  

 

For more information about how to make long-lasting lifestyle changes with your diet that will keep you at a healthier weight, speak to your doctor and go to the USDA web pages “What Should You Eat?” or “How Much Should you Eat?

 

And while you stated that you “don’t sit around all day,” you might be surprised when you add it up by how much of your day you are not moving around. Between sitting through school, sitting through homework, TV and computer time – sitting around time can add up faster than we may realize. Since you are overweight, and we’re going with the assumption that you are taking in more calories than you are burning off, it would also be helpful for you to think about ways in which you can become more physically active. Whether you start doing aerobic exercise a couple of times a week, go for a short walk each day, or whatever else – the more you are on the go, the more calories you will burn. If you need help in figuring out the most helpful ways to become more active, check in with your doctor or speak to your health or gym teacher at school.

 

 

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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